For the Record: Board of Trustees chair Rick Hall was 'cool nerd' for Ball State men's basketball
Editor's note: "For the Record" is a weekly series featuring former stand-out Ball State athletes and their lives after college.
Rick Hall talks a lot.
A lawyer by trade, he's also the chair of Ball State's Board of Trustees and describes his role as being the spokesperson of the board, leading meetings and pushing through the minutes.
But from 1986 to 1989, Hall represented Ball State on the basketball court. He earned four varsity letters and started 31 games, though former head coach Rick Majerus would say his academic achievements outweighed his physical prowess.
"He used to joke that I was the only player whose ACT score was higher than his vertical jump," Hall said with a laugh.
Hall was the Cardinals' captain his senior year, though he only averaged 5.3 minutes per game. Still, Ball State went 29-3 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He said he stays in touch with his teammates, including Paris McCurdy, Ball State's director of community diversity initiatives.
“Rick Hall is the epitome of the type of man that Coach Majerus wanted us to become,” McCurdy said via email. “A selfless leader, a forward thinker and of course, a 'cool nerd.' I'll never forget how upset coach became with Rick when he got his first 'B' during his senior year, which dropped Rick's GPA from a 4.0 to a 3.98. Coach expected excellence from all of us and Rick consistently rose to the level of those high expectations."
Hall graduated with a 3.952 GPA and won the first-ever Walter Byers Graduate Scholarship, which is awarded by the NCAA to just one male and female athlete each year.
His grades were so good that Majerus even let him skip study hall — on one condition.
“Instead, what he said to me was ‘Look, I don’t care how good of a student you are. If you can’t articulate your thoughts very clearly and persuasively, no one cares. So I want you to go speak at these half-dozen community events,’" Hall said. "So when everybody else would have to go to study hall, I would have to go to a community event and speak.”
Hall would head down to community organizations like the Boys & Girls Club or a youth basketball team and talk.
“[Majerus] had it booked, so at 8:30 Tuesday night,“ Hall said before trailing off with a chuckle. “So that really helped me grow as a person and become less shy and more of a leader.”
McCurdy said that was just the way Majerus led them. Doing well in class or on the court wasn't enough. He wanted the players to be successful down the road.
"His main concern for us was our lives beyond the Xs and Os of the game," McCurdy said. "For instance, coach had an immense vocabulary. He’d come to practice and use some word that none of us had ever heard of, but by the next day, if we couldn’t define it and use it properly, that was going to be a problem."
Hall took the vocabulary Majerus helped him build, along with his public speaking skills and the money he won from the Byers Scholarship, to Northwestern University. He graduated with his law degree in 1992 and moved to Indianapolis and became involved with Cardinal Varsity Club and the Alumni Council.
In 2007, Hall was appointed to the Board of Trustees by former Governor Mitch Daniels.
“Really, everything good in my life, I can trace back its roots to my days back at Ball State," Hall said. "That’s why I feel so privileged to be able to give back as a trustee and try to create that experience, try to create that opportunity for so many students today."
Instead of creating that experience on the court, Hall now does it in the board meetings — usually by talking.